In 2012, Google cemented a bright future for itself. Chrome — their flagship web browser — was starting to become everyone’s go-to in the browser market. Then Google launched their social media service: Google+. You might remember it. It was harder to use (remember “circles”) and just made absolutely no sense.
The funny thing about the now-defunct social media platform is the failure itself. Google+ symbolized everything Google is, and always has been: a terrifying internet conglomerate with no sense of branding, marketing, or relationship with users. Google+ ultimately failed, the Nexus and Pixel still lay in the shadow of products with incredible potential, if not for its classroom success, Chromebook wouldn’t see the success it has otherwise had. Google has made billions profiting off of selling ads via consumers themselves. Any hardware they’ve attempted to sell has failed.
Good news on Google hardware is often overcast by several different issues. For the Pixel 5, Google has given it one of the best smartphone cameras, rivaling the iPhone 12 Pro and others, but there’s a reason it hasn’t been able to compete with other flagships. The Google Pixel Slate was Google’s attempt at “merging” tablets and computers. Sadly, the Pixel Slate was buggy and difficult to use.
Google Nest vs Google Home? Neither.
Even where Google seems to shine the most, they still drag their feet a bit. Go to their audio department, try buying the Google Home or Google Nest. What’s the difference? Who knows! Confusing branding doesn’t net yourself success.
Google’s AI is much more effective than Apple’s Siri, but buying a Google speaker sounds like a privacy concern.
Instead of a Google speaker, try the Sonos One.
Google’s speakers don’t sound amazing. Both Apple and Sonos are selling speakers right now claiming to be better for “music enthusiasts.” Apple’s HomePod launched at $349 two years ago. That price seems like a bit of a stretch, even for a company who is known for upcharging.
Even if I didn’t want a Google smart speaker, I could just go to Amazon for an Echo device. But how is that any better? It’s not. Instead, I’d recommend the Sonos One.
The Sonos One has been my go-to smart speaker for the last six months. Not only does Sonos combine both Google and Amazon by using their integrated assistants, but it also uses Apple AirPlay. It’s versatile and for $199, it’s worth it.
Their phones? Yeah, pass.
When the phone first launched, the Google Pixel was just a copycat iPhone. It had a similar display, similar specs, and a really great camera. These are similar things the iPhone is best known for. Over the years, very few new features have been added to put the Pixel over some of the best flagships on the market.
If you’re a casual phone buyer, the Pixel might be fine for you. The cameras are some of the best phones have to offer. But the iPhone 12 Pro (and iPhone 12), Samsung’s Galaxy and Note flagships, and other flagship manufacturers have made the cameras in their phones rival to some of Canon and Nikon’s best on the market.
The Google Pixel 4 was Google’s first great smartphone. It finally seemed like it could compete with other smartphones. The design was attractive, it came in the same price point, cameras were obviously a big plus. Even for budget consumers, the Pixel 4a still exists for less than $400.
Pixel 5 dropped $100 in price and lost a few key features. Again, Google doesn’t seem confident that it can outsell Samsung, LG, or Apple. All of them have smartphones with better hardware. The OnePlus 8 has similar specs, also led with a 90Hz display, is the same price (actually is $200 off right now), and the T-Mobile variant is actually water-resistant. The OnePlus 8T also made some massive camera improvements and even Apple’s customers were gifted by a smaller hardware spec list difference between their iPhone 12 and 12 Pro models.
Needless to say, there’s some catching up to do.
Other phone options?
Choosing a phone that’s not a Google phone is easy. Last year, Samsung dropped one of the best Android phones I’ve seen in awhile, the Samsung Galaxy S20. If that doesn’t pique your interest, the OnePlus 8T is another great option. Apple’s iPhone 12 is my favorite iPhone since the iPhone 6S back in 2015.
If you want a computer, Google may actually have you covered.
In 2020, Chromebooks outsold Macs, which isn’t necessarily a problem for Apple and their Mac lineup, but a problem for Microsoft. Apple’s market share actually increased last year, from 6.7 percent to 7.5 percent.
So yeah, Microsoft might have a problem.
Chromebooks have helped low-income students come up with cheap solutions for a great laptop. Even though these computers aren’t competing in the same luxury market with Apple, a lot of the key drivers to buy a Chromebook are shared with the Mac lineup. Chromebooks don’t get viruses (at least not as easily), boot up quickly, and have built-in security — all of this is what actually got me to pick up my first MacBook Pro at a Toledo Apple Store in 2017.
Google even used a key marketing strategy Apple used to distribute their computers. Before MacBooks were as popular as they are now, Apple fell behind Windows…big. So Apple started planting their Macs inside college classrooms, especially in creative classes like graphic design, broadcasting, and media arts. Reports show that more than two-thirds of college students prefer Macs over PCs.
Google did the same exact thing, but in classrooms of elementary, middle school, and high school students.
A Chromebook will work for some people. Older people who use the internet to find recipes or get directions in Google Maps who are looking for a super affordable computer would find the Chromebook to be a better investment than any other PC on the market. But Chrome OS is very basic. Even for students, a big hurdle is trying to install Microsoft Office software, because you can’t actually get the desktop version of it. Instead, you need to retrieve it from the Chrome or Google Play store.
Some classrooms are revolving their life around Chrome itself since you can just use Google Docs as an alternative to Microsoft Word.
Is a Chromebook right for you?
Depending on how you use computers, yes. But if you need to do any video editing, install Photoshop, or play games such as Minecraft or the Sims, that will be an issue on a Chromebook. Leveling up to a starter PC can do even the most simple of tasks.
If you’re considering a Mac, the price point of a Chromebook probably shouldn’t even be in your frame of reference since there’s just no comparison. I’ve been impressed with how easily Apple has shifted the iPad into a productivity device and would easily recommend the iPad Pro with 4G LTE as a laptop replacement. Even the Microsoft Surface Pro is an eye-catching product. But if you’re looking for a cheaper laptop, I’d recommend something a bit more powerful than running Chrome OS.
Google’s highest profits come from their software, so Android OS, Chrome OS via their Chromebooks, etc. And that includes Google itself. Naturally, many think of Chrome as Google spyware and that’s it. I’ve completely rid myself of Google products — including my own Gmail account.
Goodbye Chrome — Hello Safari
Back in December, I published a very controversial article titled “Google Chrome sucks — here’s why you should stop using it.” People were heated, others came to the defense of browsers like Brave or Firefox. Sadly, Brave is just Chrome’s sister. Firefox is easily a browser worth recommending with its speed and ease of use.
But Safari is perfect for Apple users.
Not long ago, Safari was almost as bad as Microsoft’s infamous Internet Explorer. It was so unpopular, Apple finally gave it Windows support and then yanked it a year later. But as far as performance goes, Safari is the easy choice among Apple users.
I’ve mentioned how Chrome just straight-up eats your RAM, sometimes taking up as much as 500MB. In recent tests, it uses ten times more RAM than Safari. And if you use a mobile device, such as an iPad or iPhone, the separation goes even further. Thanks to a fresh new look given with macOS Big Sur, Safari is finally the perfect browser for an Apple device.
Your browser runner-up? Not Brave, unfortunately.
Despite Brave’s attractive reward system and focus on user privacy, it is basically just a different version of Google Chrome except it isn’t Chrome. Firefox runs excellent most of the time, though for others it might vary. On my machine, Firefox is a memory hog, but I have an M1 Mac Mini. Others swear by it.
Gmail? Nope. No thanks.
The hardest one to break off is probably Google’s mail client. When Gmail was first introduced in 2004, it was the first of its kind to not have any sort of small storage problem. Finally, email where you didn’t need to delete emails every single week. That issue is one for the past, though. I’d be surprised if an email service was as limiting.
This popularity, strung together by Google’s success and acquisition of YouTube in 2006 made Gmail the default mail client of the future. Soon enough, it’s time to cut ties.
I’ve deleted my last Gmail account and two remain: my iCloud email account I have with Apple and my private domain webmail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
How will anyone replace Gmail?
Yahoo Mail and even AOL have great mail clients. I used AOL in high school and, though my friends constantly teased me for it, I swore by its service. My favorite feature was texting my friends (pre-Apple days) from my computer via AOL.
Now that Google’s mail product is less unique as it was twenty years ago, it should be much easier to find a replacement that makes Gmail look more replaceable.
YouTube. Yes, YouTube.
My YouTube account is the only remaining Google product I have left. Yet, YouTube remains to be the best place for creators to make money. That, and Medium of course. (Medium is easily the best starting place for so many writers).
It was pointed out that TikTok, while making it easy for creators to make some profit from their content, that after several months, that revenue slowly starts backpeddling. The relationship that TikTok has with its users isn’t great and we’re starting to be reminded of what makes YouTube the best place for entertainment, independent creators, and users themselves.
YouTube gives you a Gmail account with a channel but I haven’t touched it in more than two years.
The rest of Google.
Google Drive’s biggest competitor is Dropbox, but for the most part, both are vaguely similar. If you use Dropbox, chances are you’re going to pay for it. $10/month gets you 2TB of storage space, while Google seems like they’re aiming more for consumers who aren’t searching for tons of space. Google can get you 100GB for $2/month.
Even with Google’s smaller pricing and smaller quantity model, Apple offers several iCloud plans: 50GB, 200GB, and 2TB. Their 200GB plan is $3/month.
Even owning an Android phone indirectly places you under Google’s “rule.” Unfortunately, the options just aren’t there. Unless you want an iPhone, Android is the only choice. Windows phones have ceased to exist and even Blackberry used Android for the last few phones it had.
As a search engine, Google has made some giant strides. After all, it’s the one 99 percent of people use. That’s not a real stat, just an assumption.
If someone wants to look up the New York Mets game, for example, here’s what they’ll see:
By contrast, if I wanted to look up the New York Mets game on my favorite search engine Ecosia, which plants trees with every search, I would see significantly less information.
By comparison, a search on Ecosia nets less info — no game information or widgets. The news carousel is relatively a new feature that they’ve added to help make it more useful.
Searching on DuckDuckGo, another search engine that focuses on user privacy, gives some better results.
Even though I can’t actually see any games from today, DuckDuckGo uses data from Sportradar to lend information from past games.
Asking DuckDuckGo a question doesn’t help very much either, but Siri Knowledge can usually fill in the blanks. Both DDG and Ecosia’s first results lead to Jacob deGrom’s Wikipedia page, which would give me his age. Yet, typing the question into the Safari browser will usually just leave any need for Google out of the equation.
I’ve stopped using Google as my default search engine for the last five months and it’s like my life has gone on completely unaffected.
Even with all of these big changes, I will never rid myself of Google’s monopoly. Using any website usually lets Google know who I am and what I’m browsing via embedded code. Even when I owned and operated my music blog, I used Google code for Adsense. So yeah, I’m a perpetrator of my own demise.
It might also sound silly that I’m recommending Apple’s monopoly — which some hate even more — as a recuse to Google’s capitalistic nightmare. As you may have heard, Apple doesn’t need to get into the ad game. Their hardware will be more successful than Google’s has ever been and will ever be.
Besides, here’s Google’s app information on Apple’s App Store.
And here’s Ecosia’s — who doesn’t even have a “data linked to you” button.
It’s time to end your relationship with Google — as much as you possibly can.